Friday, February 24, 2023

Get me that Stone Woman

I mentioned in one of the recent Thursday Movie Picks that I had just watched the movie < a href="">Romancing the Stone, and it fit the theme of that week, so I decided to use it and would be doing a fuller-length post on the movie soon. I'm actually a bit ahead in watching movies, so this post is sitting in draft for a little while before going up.

Kathleen Turner plays Joan Wilder, a woman who is successful as a romance novelist, but not so successful in romance in her real life. She lives alone -- well, with her cat -- in New York and cranks out those novels that are surprisingly big sellers, but doesn't have a man in her life. She does, however, have a sister, and one day she hears that her sister has been kidnapped down in Cartgena, Colombia, this being the era when cocaine exports from Colombia were much more in the news than they are now. Whoever kidnapped the sister wants to ransom her, and Joan is just the one to do it since she's presumably got the money from her books.

However, except for the money, Joan really isn't the person to do it. She's not street-wise, and doesn't speak Spanish, and she certainly doesn't know how to deal with the locals in a place like Colombia. And it doesn't help that there are people who know that she's arrived, such as Ralph (Danny Devito). He's looking for some sort of treasure, and apparently Joan unwittingly has information that will lead to finding the treasure, and this is something Joan's sister was involved with.

The best way to deal with it is to waylay Joan and get that information from her. TO that end, the destination plaques on the buses are changed so that when Joan thinks she's getting on the bus for the 20-hour trip to Cartagena, she's really getting on a bus that's going somewhere in the jungle. Joan obviously doesn't know at first that she's on the wrong bus, but it's certainly full of Hollywood's stereotypes of the sort of people who live in the rural section of a poor Latin American country. Eventually, the bus is stopped, and there's shooting.

But Joan is saved! There's an American soldier of fortune, Jack Colton (Michael Douglas), who's in Colombia for reasons that don't really matter to the plot, and he happens to be there presumably searching for whatever information Joan has. In any case, he saves Joan and they set off into the jungle to get away from both the criminals who want what Joan has, and the Colombian military, or maybe a paramilitary.

It turns out that Joan has a map that utterly improbably leads to the location of a cave where some ridiculously large gem has been buried. You can only find the cave if you fold the map just right, the sort of thing that might work in a Hollywood movie but again I can't imagine it working in real life, but there we are. They find the gem, but once again, but the criminals and the military are in hot pursuit, forcing Joan and Jack to go their separate ways and hopefully meet again in Cartagena.

Don't try to analyze the plot to Romancing the Stone. Instead, it's the sort of movie you should just sit back and relax as you watch it, preferably with some friends and a bowl of popcorn or whatever snack you prefer. This is a movie that's designed to entertain rather than to be some sort of high art. And it certainly does entertain, even if it does feel formulaic at times. Turner and Douglas work well together, and Danny DeVito is good as the bumbling henchman.

As for the title of this post? Well, Romancing the Stone was a popular movie when it was released, and Hollywood wanted to cash in on it. There was a more or less sequel made, Jewel of the Nile, while other studios made knockoff movies. Menachem Golan at Cannon did a remake of King Solomon's Mines, and one of his missives to the people actively involved in production was "Get me that Stone woman". They figured this meant a new young actress, Sharon Stone, and signed her, although a lot of the people involved with King Solomon's Mines claim she was difficult to work with. It was only later that they found out Golan really meant "Get me that 'Stone' woman", referring to Kathleen Turner from Romancing the Stone!

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